Ethics, Concentration


Building on a key course from the Core Curriculum (Philosophy and the Ethical Life), the Ethics Concentration is centered on the Philosophy Department’s upper-level course on Ethics. From this central point, students continue in a variety of directions, including applied ethics, moral theology, and political philosophy.

“Should we say that even our leading citizens, in whose hands we are placing the whole city, ought to remain in darkness concerning such and so great a matter?” 

In these words from Plato’s Republic, Socrates establishes knowledge of the good as the highest goal of a liberal education. This quest for knowledge of the good is twofold. On the one hand, it leads us through the world’s mysterious grandeur to its even more mysterious source. On the other, it leads us into heart of human life. The Ethics Concentration follows this second path, asking how it is that human lives, characters, actions, and communities are either good or bad.

At the heart of the concentration is the Philosophy Department’s upper-level course on Ethics. There we seek to discern the principles of right action, and to understand the main theories that philosophers have defended concerning these principles.

From this central point, students are able to take their studies in a variety of directions. One possibility is to focus on specific areas in which sound ethical principles must be applied, in courses such as Business Ethics, Bioethics, and Philosophy of Technology. Theology courses, such as Moral Theology and Catholic Social Teaching, bring the light of faith to bear on the task of living well. In courses such as Aristotle’s Politics and Political Philosophy and the Family, finally, the political dimension of our quest for the good life comes to the fore.

The concentration consists of Ethics and four additional courses, including at least one in Philosophy and one in Theology or Politics.

For more information about the Ethics Concentration, contact Dr. Lance Simmons, the concentration director.